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England 1966

2010-05-05 07:37
Host Country: England
Champions: England
Runners Up: West Germany

The 1966 FIFA World Cup, the eighth staging of the World Cup, was held in England from 11 July to 30 July. England was chosen as hosts by FIFA in August 1960 to celebrate the centenary of the standardisation of football in England. England won the final, beating West Germany 4–2, giving them their first (and to date, only) World Cup win, and becoming the first host to win the tournament since Italy in 1934.

The 1966 World Cup was the subject of bitter disagreement before a ball was ever kicked. Sixteen African nations boycotted the tournament in protest of a 1964 FIFA ruling that required the champion team from the African zone to enter a playoff round against the winners of either the Asian or the Oceania zone in order to win a place at the finals. The Africans felt that winning their zone should have been enough in itself to merit qualification for the finals.

Despite the Africans' absence, there was another new record number of entries for the qualifying tournament, with 70 nations taking part. After all the arguments, FIFA finally ruled that ten teams from Europe would qualify, along with four from South America, one from Asia and one from North and Central America.

London's Wembley Stadium provided the venue for the final, and 98,000 people crammed inside to watch. After 12 minutes 32 seconds Helmut Haller had put West Germany ahead, but the score was levelled by Geoff Hurst four minutes later. Martin Peters put England in the lead in the 78th minute; England looked set to claim the title when the referee awarded a free kick to West Germany with one minute left. The ball was launched goalward and Wolfgang Weber managed to poke it across the line, with England appealing in vain for handball as the ball came through the crowded penalty area.

With the score level at 2–2 at the end of 90 minutes, the game went to extra time. In the 98th minute Hurst found himself on the score sheet again; his shot hit the crossbar, and bounced down and hit the ground either onto or just over goal line. Whether the ball actually crossed the goal line or not has been a matter of discussion for decades, and this goal, known as the "Ghost Goal", has become part of World Cup history. Recent digitally-enhanced footage is said to clearly illustrate that Geoff Hurst's second goal did not cross the line. In the last minute it was Hurst again, who dribbled easily through the German half to net his third goal, just as the gathered crowd invaded the pitch to celebrate with the team, thus cementing the victory for England with another goal. This made Geoff Hurst the only player ever to have scored three times in a World Cup final.

BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme's description of the match's closing moments has gone down in history: "Some people are on the pitch. They think it's all over ... [Hurst scores] It is now!"

England received the recovered Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen and were crowned World Cup winners for the first time.

Notable Facts
The 1966 World Cup had a rather unusual hero off the field: a dog called Pickles. In the build up to the tournament the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen from an exhibition display. A nationwide hunt for the icon ensued. It was later discovered wrapped in some newspaper as the dog sniffed under some bushes in London. The FA commissioned a replica cup in case the original cup was not found in time. This replica is held at the English National Football Museum in Preston, where it is on display.

Golden Boot
9 goals from Portugal’s Eusébio

England Captain Bobby Moore takes hold of England's first, and thus far only World Cup Trophy, handed to him by the Queen. (AFP)

More In This Category

The 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany featured teams from all six continents, and will be remembered for a headbutt in the Final.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup, held in the Republic of Korea and Japan is most notable for the early exit of defending champions France.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France, included red cards, head-butting, stunning goals and a crushing defeat against the run of play.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup, held in the United States to encourage growth of the game there, saw the first occurrence of a Final decided by penalty shoot-out.
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